It’s that time of the year again. One city is still cleaning up confetti from the championship parade, all the biggest free agent pieces have fallen into place, and tip off from the regular season is still over 3 months away. So what do we do with our free time? Overreact on the internet to 19 year olds playing in a gym in Vegas, and project If players are Hall of Famers, or the second coming of Anthony Bennett. Here are my thoughts on the summers hottest exhibition games.
Kevin Knox - 22 PPG / 2 APG / 6.5 RPG
Kevin Knox was the complete package in his first Summer League game. The 18 year old wing out of Kentucky was able to run the length of the floor, in what appeared to be three strides, finishing with explosive dunks. Kevin was able to hold his own when being backed down by opposing big men. While his 3 point shot wasn’t efficient in college, he has a great shooting stroke and should be a great 3 ball shooter at the next level. If Knox can keep it up he will be in the conversation for the ever prestigious Summer League MVP award.
DeAndre Ayton - 15.5 PPG / 0 APG / 10 RPG
The expectations were high for the #1 overall pick for the Phoenix Suns. People expected him to be somewhere between 2001 Shaq and the blue Monstar from Space Jam. He ended up playing similar to a guy that just came out of college, he was good. Not great, but good. He was clearly not in NBA shape, showing that he was visibly gassed and was slow on his second bounce, but you can’t be too hard on the guy as he was double teamed almost the entire time he was on the floor. He still flashed his ability to face up and grab boards at a high rate when he logged his first double double against Bagley. He already showed that he has a higher IQ than Bagley when he wore Nike’s during a game instead of Pumas and blacked out the swoosh logo.
Jaren Jackson Jr. - 8.5 PPG / 1.5 APG / 9 RPG
Jaren is on track to be that franchise piece that Memphis was looking for. In his first ever game, he knocked down 8 shots from behind the arc, including one half court buzzer beater that sparked his shoulder shimmy. His inside game has shown to be raw and lacking power at times. On the defensive end he can cover the entire floor and block shots with the best of them. My favorite play of Summer League was JJJ recreating the LeBron-Iguodala block and running into crowd after making the block. By the time he is able to get to his feet, he re-enters the court just in time to block another shot. Memphis has a star in the making.
Trae Young - 10.5 PPG / 7 APG / 1.5 RPG
Poor Trae Young. He isn’t Steph Curry and he never will be. Now that we have established what he is not, we can look at what kind of player is. We know that he’s a great passer that can sling the ball behind his back, low to the floor, or while looking the other way. This seemed to be his only redeeming quality during the last week. His outside shot was not landing, as he starting off shooting 12% from three point range. His inside game was not much better, shooting just 23% from the field. Trae’s inside shot was often blocked as he was unable to get separation. The only time he was able to get separation was when he was on defense, as people often used their physicality to have their way with him. Trae was getting visibly frustrated, even before him and Grayson Allen broke the internet with their scuffle. Trae Young will improve, but could use a better week two.
Marvin Bagley III - 15 PPG / 2 APG / 7 RPG
Sacramento’s second overall pick struggled during Summer League play (as did his orange Pumas). Coming out of college, the biggest knock on Bagley was his inability to switch on defense and it showed. While his on-ball defense had flashes of being solid, he still wasn’t able to help his teammates much. On the offensive end, his spin move was one of my favorite moves to watch all week, but he would finish it off with his post hook that just wouldn’t connect. Marvin showed a ton of effort on the offensive boards and I expect that to help the Kings add extra possessions next season. Bagley came out of the game with a few minutes left against Phoenix after tweaking his right hip flexor/groin area. He will likely sit out a few Summer League games but will recover just fine.
Mohamed Bamba - 11 PPG / 1 APG / 6 RPG
In week one, Mo Bamba was the best-case-scenario version of himself. Mo was able to get his fair share of blocks on the defensive end including multiple on previously mentioned Jaren Jackson Jr. Watching the towering combination of Jonathon Isaac and him lock down the paint was something special to see, but when Isaac dished it to Bamba on a pick and pop from behind the arc, I knew that Orlando had a magical pair for the next 5 years.
Wendell Carter Jr. - 12.5 PPG / 1 APG / 8 RPG
In the first 10 minutes of Wendell’s career, he had 4 blocks. At this pace, if he plays around 22 minutes a game this season, he’ll have over 700 blocks this season, shattering Manute Bol’s record of 397 in a single season. The big man out of Duke is not afraid to get in your space and hunt for the ball. Wendell was able to do it all, from keeping up with guards when they switched on him, putting his back to the basket, and knocking down shots from three point range. Invest in Wendell Carter stock. He is on the rise.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander - 17 PPG / 3 APG / 5 RPG
Shai did everything that the Clippers would want him to do in his debut. He facilitated the offense and was able to find open space after making the pass. In transition, he was able to slip through defenders and switch hands at the basket. My favorite part of his game was his pull up jump shot around the free throw line. Defensively, Shai would often find himself going over the ball screen and would get beat by the defender. Luckily for Shai, he was able to use his length and athleticism to recover and contest the shots.
Josh Hart - 21.5 PPG / 3 APG / 4 RPG
It’s clear that Josh Hart wants to be seen as a contributor for this Lakers team. He is trying to make a statement while his fellow draft mates Lonzo and Kuzma sit on the sidelines. The second year man out of Villanova proved that he can shoot and put the ball on the floor. Hart also proved that he has NBA strength when Marvin Bagley was backing him down and not gaining any ground. Josh Hart will be a good player moving forward for the Lakers (or Spurs wink wink).
Grayson Allen - 16 PPG / 5 APG / 6 RPG
Once a villain, always a villain. Move over Bill Lambieer. Move over Latrell Sprewell. Besides getting under everybody’s skin, Grayson Allen was very impressive in a Jazz uniform. His frame looked more filled out than a lot of the other guards in their first two years standing at 6’5”, 200lbs. He was able to use that frame to get to through the lane and to the rim. This either resulted in a basket, or a trip to the charity stripe, where he shot over 80% during his three years at Duke. I could see Allen exploiting this play style, similar to James Harden’s game in 2015.
Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk - 16 PPG / 2 APG / 5.5 RPG
“Svi” came into the league this year out of the University of Kansas, after spending 4 years as their shooting guard. He currently holds the Jayhawks three point record in a single season and has shown no problems adjusting to the NBA range. Svi’s can not only shoot, but rebound at a high rate for a guard using his 6’8 height. The Lakers have a roster spot to fill, and if the general consensus is that LeBron needs shooters around him, then we could see Svi in gold and purple this October.
Harry Giles - 12.5 PPG / 0 APG / 5.5 RPG
Bagley’s low post teammate Harry Giles had a different summer league experience. He seemed to be one of the feel good stories of the week with everybody rooting for his success. Giles plays with a chip on his shoulder, probably due to the fact that coming out of high school, Harry was supposed to be the most sure-thing big man in years, but struggled to stay healthy multiple times in his short basketball career. Giles looked good on the floor with Bagley showing active hands and the ability to rip down boards. If he can continue to improve his game, he could end up being a steal at #20 overall in the 2017 draft. He could be this years “2nd year ROY” candidate.
Lonnie Walker IV - 14.5 PPG / 1.5 APG / 4.5 RPG
Lonnie came into summer league holding the title for best hair in the league, and was able to show why he was scouted as a late lottery pick. Walker worked excellent with Derrick White in the backcourt, with White being the playmaker with scoring ability, and Walker being the scorer with playmaking ability. The rookie out of Miami was at his best when he was in open space, which seemed to be easy considering the amount of separation he was able to get at any time. Lonnie never looked like the best player on the court but looks to be someone that can score as a combo guard in a good system.
Collin Sexton - 14.5 PPG / 1 APG / 4.5 RPG
The Cavs new point guard had a rather pedestrian first week in the NBA. He showed that he has high energy on both ends of the floor, but didn’t flash any abilities that overly impressed the Vegas crowd. I will be interested to see how he uses his motor, with his great agility in the future. His first step and ability to change speeds are as good as anybody on the court any given night.
Frank Mason III - 9.5 PPG / 5.5 APG / 2 RPG
I’ve got to be honest, I wasn’t expecting to talk about Frank Mason this week but I couldn’t help myself. He showed up ready to fight. The 5’11” guard hustled on every play and was a lockdown defender on the opposing guards. (Even typing this feels weird) Frank Mason could be the NBA’s next Marcus Smart but with better ball handling. He’s a pit bull that can come off the bench and give 200% energy every minute he’s in.
Be sure to follow Kyle Brandon on Twitter @GoodLuckKyle
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